Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Grant me the serenity....

I've heard good things about Audrey Grant, especially from Lisa. She (Ms. Grant) is the author of a number of bridge tutorial books, seems to headline a lot of bridge cruises, and doubtless knows her stuff. Browsing in a used bookstore in Maine yesterday, I flipped through a copy of Audrey Grant's "Better Bridge: Play" and, opening at random on page 228, came to the following sample deal, which I dutifully copied down to share with you.

Contract: 2 ♠ 
Lead: ♣ Q
♠ A Q J
♥ 8 2
♦ 10 8 7 5 2
♣ 8 6 3
♠ K
♥ Q J 10 9 7 5
♦ J 4 3
♣ A 9 4

The contract is 2S, and West leads the queen of clubs. Setting aside the question of what sort of hideous bidding must have happened, Ms. Grant says the contract is makeable, but I don't quite see how. Looks like too many losers off the top, and discarding a couple of them on dummy's trump just makes the situation worse. Anyone?


  At Friday, September 08, 2006 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Paul said:

Well, I just sent an email to Ms. Grant's organization asking if she can explain the deal. I'll keep you all posted.

  At Thursday, September 21, 2006 1:47:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Aha. I just got a response from the publisher, suggesting that there was a simple typo -- the contract should be two HEARTS. That makes so much sense.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Cheat sheet

I learned bridge from Alexa, who learned from her family. When she took on the responsibility of teaching us, she passed out her family's official bridge reference card ("for beginners as well as rusty, reticent 'fourths'"), which still stands as an authority in my circle, although we do question a couple of points. It's great to have on hand during a game -- even if you've got it all memorized, chances are someone else at the table could use a refresher.

Apparently there's a new edition that obsoletes the one we learned on, but I don't have it. Meanwhile, the nice laminated copies have become very scarce, so here are scans for those who wonder why I never underlead an ace, et cetera:

Cheat Sheet, page 1   Cheat Sheet, page 2   Cheat Sheet, page 3   Cheat Sheet, page 4



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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Oh dear. I just stumbled across, the American Contract Bridge League's attempt to hook young people on the thrills of bidding, ruffing, and possibly even overruffing. Unfortunately it has that unmistakable look of marketing committees hungrily trying to speak the kids' language, replete with color-filtered photos of white teens striking uproarious poses with cards, gratuitous.dots in the copy, colorful desktop wallpapers, and a hilarious PSA video exhorting kids to "ruff ruff it / squeeze" backed by a bumpin' hip-hop track. (Can you make out the lyrics? Is it "trumpin' low like a six of hearts"?)

With promotional efforts like this, I can't imagine why bridge isn't right up there with skating and inhalants as a prime teen activity. According to the quotes on, even Sting plays!


  At Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:11:00 PM, Blogger M said:

"Well, despite going into the final quarter up 96 IMPS, USA1 managed to make a show of it, blowing 81 of them before pulling it out. And so the gold medals will be coming back to the States for the second year in a row, and the rock stars who won them will have those beautiful gold medals forever. Seriously, wouldn't it be cool to have a gold medal?"

um . . .

  At Friday, August 11, 2006 2:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Indeed, it's shocking their spotlight on young enthusiasts isn't called meet a playa.


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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Another slam attempt

I don't much like to play online, but once in a while, when the bridge urge is strong and I can't find real-life players, it comes in handy. You can always find a game on Yahoo; the problem is, you have no idea who you might be playing with.

partner When I was dealt the fantastic hand below (I'm South again) on Yahoo Bridge, I didn't know a thing about my partner's system, and I didn't want to risk being passed or winding up in some freaky contract, so I opened with 3NT. But, as I guess can be expected in such situations, my mysterious partner raised, and we landed in 6NT. Take a look:

Contract: 6 NT
Lead: ♠ 4
♠ Q 10 6
♥ 9 6
♦ 9 8 5
♣ 10 9 7 5 2
♠ J 9 8 4 3 2
♥ J 2
♦ 7 4
♣ 8 6 4
♠ A
♥ 10 8 7 3
♦ Q J 10 6 3 2
♣ K 3
♠ K 7 5
♥ A K Q 5 4
♦ A K
♣ A Q J

West led the 4 of spades to East's ace. I went down at the time, but the small slam is possible. Can you see a way to win all the remaining tricks and make the contract? Assume that East isn't self-sacrificing enough to lead a club on the second round.


  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 7:55:00 PM, Anonymous Bryan said:

Hey Paul and Michelangelo! If you assume that West is leading his 4th high, you can count how many missing cards there are above the 4 and assume that after playing the A of spades East could at best have the 2 and 3 remaining. Therefore, throw the K of spades on the ace to allow two finesses. It still requires a lucky guess, but go to the 10 of spades and finesse a club. Here's the chancy part... cash the ace of clubs. When the king falls, cash the Q of clubs, go to the queen of spades, run the clubs to throw off your heart losers and claim. If there is some other way, I can't figure it out. The K* doubleton is only like 33% likely or sumthin, but I don't see a sure-fire win.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 8:21:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Very nice! That's the only solution I can see. I didn't even think about how low the odds were.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:03:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

I think half the time the club finesse will work; and then if it does, it leaves the king unguarded a third (?) of the time; so with that line of play you have a 17% (?) chance of making the slam.

You could hope for a 3-3 split in hearts, which would allow you to take two club finesses, increasing your chances in that suit significantly. The odds that hearts'll fall 3-3 are 35.5% (I'm looking this stuff up here). Take with that the 50% odds of East having the king, and then the odds that it's not Kxxx or Kxxxx -- my math isn't good enough to figure which line of play is likelier to succeed, looking for the doubleton king or hoping for the heart break; needless to say, Bryan's is the one that works when the cards are as shown.

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

(Now I have "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" running through my head.)

  At Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:18:00 PM, Blogger Bryan said:

I'm thinking that an assumption about the king doubleton is a little more foreseeable (maybe by, say, 4% or something) b/c you would figure East would try to flush out the A of clubs if he/she could and would have led a club at trick 2. That, combined with the successful finesse that placed East with the king...

  At Wednesday, August 09, 2006 4:07:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Actually, my thinking was off -- you don't need to choose one line of play over the other, since you can test the hearts before attempting the club finesse.

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